Question: How does a marvelously gifted, undefeated young contender lose credibility after stopping a respected veteran who had never been knocked out?
Answer: by pulling what Adrien Broner pulled this past weekend.
Broner remained unbeaten by scoring a fifth-round TKO against Vicente Escobedo in front of his hometown fans at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, but the talented boxer-puncher was not well received by the boxing community because of the unprofessionalism he showed by failing to make weight at Friday’s weigh-in and again on Saturday, which put the fight in serious jeopardy for several hours and gave him an unfair advantage over his opponent (who was a sizeable underdog to begin with).
Broner (24-0, 20 knockouts) had to give up his WBO 130-pound title at the weigh-in when he came in 3.5 pounds over the junior lightweight limit. He did not look as though he had drained himself at all trying to make 130 pounds and the 22-year-old Ohioan did not attempt to sweat off the excess weight.
Escobedo (26-4, 15 KOs), who received $30,000 of a $60,000 fine to Broner, was upset but agreed to go on with the HBO-televised fight provided the odds favorite did not weigh more than 140 pounds at a second weigh-in the morning of the fight.
Broner agreed to the contract amendment but did not honor it, coming in at 143 pounds, sparking wide speculation within the boxing industry and those who follow the sport on Twitter that the Boxing After Dark main event would be cancelled.
Obviously, that did not happen. Broner’s high-powered manager Al Haymon offered Escobedo a significant financial incentive to go through with the fight and the WBO promised the 30-year-old Californian that he would get a shot at the vacant title if he lost to Broner – which is what everyone expected.
As he’s done in his last three bouts, Broner more than delivered on his expectations. He controlled the fight from a distance with quick and powerful counter shots in the early rounds and began walking Escobedo down with accurate one-two combinations and punishing body shots in the fourth.
Escobedo was able to land single jabs and hooks here and there, but never seemed to be in the fight. His nose was badly busted in the fourth round and Broner was spurred on by the sight of the blood. Broner quickly pressured Escobedo to the ropes where he worked over the 2004 Olympian’s body and head until trainer Joel Julio threw in the towel, ending the fight at 2:42 of the fifth round.
However, Broner’s performance left many fans and members of the boxing media flat. It’s clear that he lost more than his WBO belt at Friday’s weigh-in, he also lost some credibility.
And he didn’t help his damaged image with his unapologetic comments regarding his failure to make weight during his post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman.
“I just grew out of the weight class, now I’m going up in weight and that’s that,” Broner said after staging a fake proposal to his girlfriend at the start of the in-the-ring interview.
Broner also shrugged off his tweeting photos of Twinkies and Twix ice cream bars after the weigh-ins on Friday and Saturday.
It was just Broner being Broner, AKA “The Problem.”
And that’s the problem.
Broner is gifted with talent and charisma that is comparable to Floyd Mayweather and boxes with a similar style, but he hasn’t accomplished enough in the sport break and buy his way out of contracts with impunity (as the incarcerated superstar did when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009).
Instead of tweeting pics of junk food, Broner needed to apologize to all the fans following him on Twitter immediately after missing the weight.
He needed to apologize during his post-fight interview on HBO. He needed to show some respect to Escobedo who helped salvage his reputation by accepting the fight. Had Escobedo not agreed to the fight, the canceled main event would have put Broner in the dog house with HBO, Golden Boy Promotions and all of the Cincinnati fans who bought tickets to watch him fight.
Broner is still in a good place with those folks, but the hyper-critical boxing aficionados of the Twitterverse were not kind to him before or after Saturday’s HBO showcase.
MaxBoxing’s boss scribe Steve Kim offered these musings during the few hours the fight was thought to be all but scrapped Saturday afternoon:
“Will Haymon’s final offer to Esco include the services of the Watson boys as he walks into the ring for his bouts?
“Just remember this, if Esco takes whatever deal, he was a bit overmatched at 135 in sanctioned lightweight bouts…
“BTW, guys miss weight, fine. There are rules in place to deal with it, like next-day limits. Broner didn’t even try and adhere to that
“Just think about it, all Broner had to do was make the second weigh-in at 140. Forget the first one the day before…
“And Broner wasn’t just missing the mark, he was over-shooting that weight like Bob Beamon’s long jump in Mexico City…
“A boxer not making the weight will happen again, trust me. But to act the way Broner has, will be unprecedented
Internet columnist Patrick Cassidy offered this gem:
“The big lesson we take away from Broner’s weight follies is the fact that “swagger” is a non-labor intensive activity.
The fans had more venom for Broner (as well some for HBO and Haymon):
“Today is partly Broners fault because he’s an idiot. But its mostly Haymon/Hbo’s fault for creating this lawless atmosphere.” – MASTER
“Broner gets no credit for tonights guaranteed victory. HBOs cheerleading commentary crew better keep it real and not make excuses for him.” – Chris Herrera
After the fight, during Broner’s interview with Kellerman, the criticism from boxing writers and fans continued:
“Broner is so lame.” – denise
Escobedo, who gave Broner his due respect during his post-fight interview with Kellerman, stating that the boxing prodigy “talks but backs it up,” received sympathy from the Twitter audience. The fringe contender choked up when he brought up his wife and 6-week-old daughter.
“Being away from my family, my wife just to come here and not get a fair fight, I just get emotional,” he said.
“I can’t blame Escobedo for his emotion. He did deserve a fair fight. I liked him before, find him far more relatable now.” – Tim Starks
Will fans and the media ever relate to Broner again? Of course they will, provided Broner’s next fight is against a credible opponent at lightweight or junior welterweight and he beats him without a weight advantage.
That’s just what the brash youngster intends to do.
“(WBC 135-pound titleholder Antonio) DeMarco, you might be next,” Broner said. “(Juan Manuel) Marquez, you can get it next. (Brandon) Rios, we can meet at a catchweight.”
In the meantime, Broner invites everyone — haters included — to follow him on Twitter @AdrienBroner.
“I do cut up like scissors all the time,” he said at the end of his HBO interview. “Holla at me.”
Photos / Naoki Fukuda and @AdrienBroner